Toward a typology of sibling relationships strategies parents of gifted and non-gifted children use

Author(s): Nava Ben Artzey Schieber, Deborah Court

Despite, the important role parents have in shaping sibling relationships, there is no work that examines how parents contribute to establishing the relationship between the gifted and the non-identified child. Moreover, most of the studies aimed at understanding sibling relationships in families with at least one child is gifted had been focused on children perspectives.

The aim of this presentation is to describe strategies parents of gifted children use when one child is identified as gifted and the other is "non-identified".

Based on 20 interviews with parents in "mixed" families we described three strategies parents used to establish the sibling relationships we called: “differential”, “artificial equation” and “situational equation”. The differential strategies describe parents' efforts to strengthen the non-identified child by emphasizing a domain/area in which s/he might excel, one which is different from the gifted child's interests. The “artificial equation” strategy describes subjective interpretations parents make by reconstructing the reality, such as labeling the non-identified child as “gifted” even though s/he didn’t pass the test. The “situational equation” strategy describes how parents design family settings that enable egalitarian opportunities to the non-identified child and thus suppress the gifted child's advantages. 

Relying on family system theory, we conclude that the three strategies present parents’ efforts in “mixed” families to equalize the status between the children. The discussion includes the consequences these parental efforts have on the gifted child. A new conceptualization of sibling relationships in “mixed” families is proposed in order to develop a comprehensive theory. Practical implications for parents, educational consultants and family therapists are also discussed.